Three Questions: Wings-Ducks
DRW.com analyzes Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals
The Wings, fresh off tying the series in Game 4 in Anaheim, came out on a mission in Game 5. Detroit dominated the game, and the 4-1 win doesn’t tell the story. However, the shot totals explain the Wings victory, most notably on the Anaheim end. In the first period, the Wings held the Ducks to three shots. In the second period, they held them to nine shots. And in the third period, the Wings held the Ducks to only five shots. That’s a total of 17 shots on the evening, and if you subtract the shots from the power play, the Ducks only had 12.
Detroit kept the shots down by breaking out of their own zone quickly with few turnovers. The Wings’ defense also did a great job of holding the puck in the offensive zone along the blue line, keeping the Ducks from being able to clear. And, possibly most important, the Wings stayed out of the penalty box. Detroit took only three penalties, one per period, which helped keep the Anaheim skilled players at bay.
Credit should go to goaltender Chris Osgood, even after stating how few shots he saw. Osgood kept his focus when at times he wasn’t seeing shots for minutes, a long time for a goaltender to wait and stay ready to make a big save. The Wings’ netminder came up big when it counted, robbing forward Eric Christensen with three minutes left in the second period by diving back across the crease to stop Ericsson’s deke. The save, only a few minutes after the Ducks’ first goal, preserved a one-goal lead for the Wings.
What was the play of the game?
There were actually two plays of the game, and they came 39 seconds apart. The game was tied at 0-0 through 20 minutes, but the Wings exploded in the second period with back-to-back goals. First, it was Johan Franzen burying his seventh goal of the playoffs at 3:23 into the second. Franzen took a pass from Justin Abdelkader, in his first playoff game, and burned goaltender Jonas Hiller with a wrist shot.
Then, Jiri Hudler worked his magic to give the Wings a commanding 2-0 lead. Thirty-nine seconds after the Franzen goal, Henrik Zetterberg fired a shot towards Hiller. The Ducks’ netminder made the stop, but the puck popped up into the air. Hudler, standing just above the crease, reached out and knocked the puck over Hiller, yet kept his stick under the crossbar. It was Hudler’s third goal of the playoffs, and definitely his most worthy of a highlight reel.
Who was the Wings’ player of the game?
I’m going with Darren Helm. The speedy rookie was flying around the ice all night, and wasn’t afraid to throw the body. He played 21 shifts for 12:19 worth of ice time. Helm picked up three shots, six hits, two takeaways, and won five face-offs. Not to mention the fact that he was plus-one, because he scored the Wings’ third goal. After Zetterberg and Dan Cleary battled for the puck near the Anaheim crease, the puck popped out to Helm, who buried it for his first goal of the playoffs. It regained the two-goal lead for the Wings with three minutes to go, a backbreaking goal for Anaheim. Plus, you have to admire a 5-foot-11 guy throwing himself at 6-foot-6 giant defenseman Chris Pronger in the corners.